Monday, 12 January 2015

2014: Retrospective

This blog started six months ago, arising from a staffroom conversation where we decided we would establish a blog. Why? To write about matters in education that matter to us. To write critically, creatively, systematically and intuitively, and in my case – just to write. Blogging is my attempt to increase fluency and the ease with which I put words on a page in the hope that this will translate into confident and increasingly prolific writing for publication.

From these beginnings, we have attempted to write weekly posts, alternating responsibility between us. This approach is intended to help us to sustain our blogging commitment, while making it more manageable rather than a burden among the list of other chores compelling projects. A blogging partnership also enables us to review each other’s posts and to tackle different angles on educational issues.

For the most part, our first six months has been successful – at least if success is to be judged by the achievement of limited and modest goals like:
  •  posting regularly and sustaining momentum
  • writing to reflect on matters of education importance
  •  experiencing a degree of satisfaction and enjoyment

In terms of audience, we sense that there are a few people reading our blog. Possibly tweeting the links to new posts helps with this. A number of supportive and encouraging colleagues have commented on posts, sometimes here online but also sometimes at the lunch table. We attracted a mention during connected educators month (Oct, 2014), and a couple of international citations from interested colleagues. A few of our students have read our blog, which is wonderful and we might dare to hope that some will do so willingly rather than out of a feeling of duty. In any case, we appreciate the interest shown.

As 2015 dawns it is time for us to look at where we have come from, to take stock of our emerging identity as bloggers and to look ahead to our future focus.

Revisiting the blog posts from our first six months, I can identify a few salient themes that have preoccupied our attention and kept us writing.

Among these,

1.     Practical approaches to online teaching: assessment, formative feedback, eportfolios, social media in tertiary education (Becoming a Connected Educator; Connected Educators, Connected Students). I have discussed a few of my approaches to teaching online, and in particular, some of the experimentation I carried out last year. I am interested in ideas for moving my teaching forward and for enhancing student learning, particularly in online classes.
2.     Response to media coverage (Schools policing uniforms and hair lengthsBeyond the Bandwagon)  and to various reports (e.g., Digital technologies in NZ Schools) and guidelines related to digital technologies and education: critique, questioning assumptions, seeking evidence, digging beneath the surface, debunking myths such as the emphasis on devices, drill and low-level skills, and the digital native/immigrant dichotomy. These are the kinds of posts that are Noeline’s speciality as she reads and reviews with a critical eye for rhetoric and unsupported hype.
4.     In relation to learning, what matters? Thinking, inquiry learning, digital literacy, and higher-order thinking involving a range of technologies and sharing with authentic audiences; depth, discernment, ethics and creativity
5.     Human rights and social justice - power struggles, control, regulation, resistance, inclusion.  
In whose interest?  
6.     Open access – TEC-Variety, Networking, Digital Smarts
8.     Implications for teachers - active professional learning, teaching as inquiry

While our thinking may have moved on, we continue to welcome responses to any of our posts. Let us know that you are reading, how you might apply some of our ideas, or how your own thinking differs.

As we enter 2015, we will continue to respond to media and government reports, and to relate practice and research. We’ll also keep you up-to-date with the progress of our Digital Smarts work. I am keen to share some summer reading, my ongoing adventures with teaching and social media, and my own learning along the way. 2015 is shaping up as another good year of conferences and professional learning events, starting with WCELFest in February, where I intend to talk about peer review of online teaching, and will certainly craft a blog post in association with this.

Happy new year to all, and please let us know that you are reading!

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